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Disneyland Article
Ousted By Star Wars Disney Horses May Hoof It To Norco

Circle D Corral
Orange County Register
Patrick O’Neill
August 24, 2016
September 01, 2016
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With Darth Vader and company claiming their old ranch, Disneyland's horses may head to a new home not so far, far away ... in Horsetown USA.

The Walt Disney Co. is proposing to build a horse training facility in Norco where it can prep animals for its Anaheim-based resort.

Melissa Britt, communications manager for Disneyland Resort, said employees were notified late Wednesday about plans to relocate roughly 16 draft horses from a temporary home in Anaheim to 2961 Valley View Ave. in Norco.

According to an application submitted to the city this month, the 5.3-acre site - dubbed Circle D Ranch as an homage to a long-standing corral at Disneyland - would include horse, hay and carriage barns, as well as a horse arena and round pens.

Disney is in the process of buying the land from a private owner based in Riverside, the application states. The parcel - an undeveloped rectangular lot - is wedged between area homes about a half-mile east of Norco City Hall.

Britt said the project could be finished by spring 2017.

"This helps the animals because it gives them a more long-term environment that supports health and well-being," Britt said. "Norco will be their home."

In April, Disneyland started building a 14-acre "Star Wars"-themed land. That required the relocation of Big Thunder Ranch and Circle D Ranch where the resort cared for horses, goats and other animals. Many of the horses pull the streetcars on rails down the middle of Disneyland's Main Street.

Some of those horses were temporarily moved to a stable in Anaheim, while the goats and other animals were permanently adopted by area residents, Britt said.

A 15-person team based in Norco would train the horses and shuttle several between the ranch and Disneyland every three days, the application states. The ranch would operate from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily.

Visitors would not be allowed, Britt said.

Disneyland has hosted more than half a billion guests since it opened in 1955. It's one of 12 Disney theme parks around the world. It is owned by the Walt Disney Co., a multinational conglomerate with major media and entertainment holdings.

Expansion into Norco - which has a population of 26,000 and is known as Horsetown, USA - would require approval by city officials. The Norco Planning Commission will be the first to discuss the application during a meeting in late September or early October, said City Clerk Cheryl Link.

Andy Okoro, city manager, said it would be inappropriate to discuss details of the project before then.

"Anything Disney's trying to do here, they certainly don't want it to be talked about until it comes to the appropriate city body," Okoro said. "I think it would be unfair to the applicant."

Norco Planning Director Steve King could not be reached Wednesday.

The majority of people in Norco own horses, according to city officials. There are horse trainers, breeders and jockeys living in the equine-centric town.

Disneyland horses have participated in several Norco parades, including the Parade of Lights in December and the annual Horseweek celebration in April. Britt said Disneyland will likely continue its participation in those and other events.
Attractions Referenced

Big Thunder Ranch

Circle D Corral

Horse-Drawn Street Cars

Lands Referenced

Main Street U.S.A.

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